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DELANO RAMBLINGS: Delano High athletes sought for recognition

Of the 21 former Delano High School athletic greats to be inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame next June 15, information on all but four has been gained. All graduated between 1970 and 1978.

Those still being sought are distance runner Helen Lopez, golf star Carl Comer, all-league footballer Junior Rodriguez and track sprinter Clouse Love.

Persons may call Gary Girard at 661-725-8803 or contact committee members who are Jerva Winn, Henry and Rachel Mendoza, Suzanne Villaruz, Arnold Morrison, Roger Gadiano, Millan Shults, Art Armendariz, Jerry Angkahan or Don Noriel.

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After the three comprehensive high schools in Delano were to hold separate winter formals last winter, this winter’s “Winter Masquerade” will join all three schools in the event Dec. 17 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Delano High School cafeteria.

The $10 tickets and permission slips are available at each school’s student body office.

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Cesar Chavez High School placed first and Delano High School second in the Division 2A band competition at Orange Cove High School. Chavez notched 78.65 points to Delano’s 76.75.

Delano’s Robert F. Kennedy High placed first among five schools in the 3A division.

Musicians are judged on general effect, performance, percussion, and auxiliary.

The schools still needed to qualify for the state competition by placing high in an event at Visalia’s Golden West High School.

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An article in an October issue of The Californian gave results for high schools in the state testing program.

I showed Delano High principal Shondra Walker the article which listed Liberty atop Kern County at 67.92 and Centennial at 67.5. The overall Delano Joint Union High School District score was 64.64 for English language arts.

Walker said Delano High barely edged Kern County high schools with a 67.95 tally though Delano’s Chavez High had a one-point lead over Delano High.

I did not learn of the math scores for Delano schools, but they were reported to be in the upper third for Kern County.

My suggestion is that the schools advise parents in some manner of the district’s accomplishments.

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At Delano High, Giselle Etrata was chosen the August 2022 Student of the Month while the honor for September went to Deisy Cabrera.

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For years — 720 games in a row — I have attended Delano High football games — home and away. Members of teams of 1946, 1966, 1948, 1958, 1966, 1972, 1973 and 1974 all can speak highly of their teams, but I would never venture to say which was the best.

There is probably no one still around to tell of the exploits of the 1946 team, but its 8-0 record is the only unbeaten season in school history. Closest call was 7-6 over Roosevelt of Fresno, and the biggest win 73-6 over a Dinuba team which would go on to win its league title.

Delano’s 1948 team was 8-2 with a mid-season 14-13 loss to Taft and at the end of the campaign a 13-0 playoff loss in the mud to Bakersfield High.

The 1958 team edged North 12-7 in the rain in the season finale to secure a league title, a week after a 20-13 loss to Bakersfield High. The loss was on a night when a bad snap from punt formation gave BHS the ball inside the Delano 10 and led to the winning score. Delano also had several injuries during the game that depleted the roster and led to many reserves finishing the game.

The 1972 team was 9-2 with a controversial 15-12 loss to Foothill in the playoffs. The 1973 team was only 8-4 but one-score losses to Mt. Whitney and Redwood during the regular season were followed by five straight wins. In the valley finals in a jam-packed Delano stadium, Delano lost 28-21 to Redwood in the large schools valley finals, just a week after DHS had blanked Fresno area powerhouse Hoover, 27-0, in the playoff semis.

Delano was 8-4 in 1974, losing 39-6 to Clovis in the valley finals at Bakersfield College stadium, just a week after the Tigers had upset then unbeaten Hanford, 23-13, in the first playoff round.

Now claiming the best mark was the 1966 team which was 9-1 and sent seven or eight players on to Division I college teams. Only loss of the season was to Taft 21-19 in the season opener. Delano led 318-140 in yards gained that night but fumbled the ball away twice, had two passes intercepted and gave up the winning score in the fourth quarter by trying to run a blocked kick out of the end zone rather than take a safety. Two Delano players had been injured in a team intrasquad game and did not play but gained all-league defensive honors.

That team outscored opponents 315-55 for the year and 164-6 in five Central Yosemite League games. I still remember Porterville scoring a touchdown from some 25 yards out when a pileup of players of both teams seemed to signal the end of the play, but the running back retreated from the maze of players and slowly raced around end as both teams viewed the run with thoughts that the play was dead.

The quarterback on that team, Mick Carter, and his close friend and defensive back star Chris Beck, who went on to start at Bakersfield College as a freshman DB, were at Delano High recently with Cynthia Mendoza, 1980 graduate and Carter’s step-daughter. They met with athletic director Albino Duran and then viewed the bust of late coach Gene Beck in the school library and then all visited Gene Beck Stadium as Carter/Chris Beck recalled team feats in the stadium with Cynthia taking some pictures and Duran and principal Shondra Walker retreating to their offices as rainfall became heavy..

Cynthia, a former freshman English student of mine at Delano High and a standout in girls basketball, was helping film a mini documentary of the 1966 football team. She played basketball at Porterville College and later would be a combat photographer in the Army for 10 years and then later for years in the Air Force.

I cannot recall all the stars of that team, but some were those two plus Joe Nigos, John Hooks, Dick Myer, Dennis Sheehan, Gary and Jerry Johnson, Mike Cercone, Dan Brewer, Andy Gabaldon and others whom I cannot recall right now.

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Delano Youth Foundation held a successful takeout paper bag luncheon recently to raise funds that go to youth and youth groups in the community.

Special mention needs to be made of “retired” director Gilbert Martinez Jr., in the kitchen, treasurer Brenda Perry-Reed, secretary Gina Lopez and husband Mario and son Mario Jr., Gina’s dad, Richard, who is on the board and wife Susie, Matt Cauthron, president David Amaya, Roy Bonita, Eddie Espitia, and I hope I did not miss anyone. And, of course, the Elks cooking team in the kitchen!

After two years of COVID and no Delano Sports Dinner, there are plans in February to renew the program which included an Elks Lodge prepared dinner, announcement of the Person of the Year, and other events rallying public support for the Foundation’s goals of supporting youth.

After more than 20 years of not raising annual dues, the dues are now $30 and may be mailed for the 2023 year to Delano Youth Foundation, PO Box 135, Delano, CA 93216.

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The community can really get in the swing of the season by attending the Kiwanis Club’s “Festival of Carols” event Tuesday, Dec. 6, starting at 6 p.m. in the Delano High auditorium.

The two-hour musical program will include high school and elementary school talent from the community, including soloists and instrumentalists of all ages, even adults.

Admission is a donation of non-perishable food items or cash.

Gary Girard is a longtime resident of Delano. He can be reached at 661-725-8803.

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